How Dare the Sun Rise

How Dare the Sun Rise

Memoirs of A War Child

Book - 2017 | First edition
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Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night -- wielding weapons, torches, machetes. She watched as her mother and six-year-old sister were gunned down in a refugee camp, far from their home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The rebels were killing people who weren't from the same community, the same tribe. In other words, they were killing people simply for looking different. "Goodbye, life," she said to the man ready to shoot her. Remarkably, the rebel didn't pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped into the night. Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York. In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, and of her hope for the future.
Publisher: New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062470140
Call Number: y BIO 967.572 UWIRINGIY 2017
Characteristics: 288 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, color portraits ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Pesta, Abigail - Author


From Library Staff

Ten year old Sandra Uwiringiyimana is forced to flee her home when rebels kill her mother and sister in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But when she and her surviving family get moved as refugees to the U.S., they face another struggle and ethnic disconnect...and for Sandra, it begins with ... Read More »

Ten year old Sandra Uwiringiyimana is forced to flee her home when rebels kill her mother and sister in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But when she and her surviving family get moved as refugees to the U.S., they face another struggle and ethnic disconnect...and for Sandra, it begins with... Read More »

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uwiringiyimana describes how she survived a massacre to become a refugee, only to experience other struggles trying to fit into life in the U.S., where she once again felt like an outsider as an African, but not African American.

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uwiringiyimana describes how she survived a massacre to become a refugee, only to experience other struggles trying to fit into life in the U.S., where she once again felt like an outsider as an African, but not African American.

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PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

Sandra Uwiringiyimana's autobiography is a wonderful read for teens and YA because of her straightforward, if rather simple, writing style, but it is a good read for all ages to learn more about activism, refugees, Africa, and the Gatuma massacre. It also forces an American reader to think about some difficult issues around race and how we treat those who seek asylum in our country.

Sandra shares her story from her childhood in Congo and Burundi, as a member of a tribe that isn't seen as part of either country; to life in a refugee camp; the process of coming to the United States and the shell-shock of being dropped into a new culture; to finding her place in the US while still fighting for justice.

Her descriptions of Africa fit some of America's negative stereotypes: tribal disputes, ongoing warfare, young boys kidnapped to become soldiers, girls raped to force marriage; but she takes the reader inside the beauty of her native home as well: the beautiful home with friendly families, watching soccer, going to church and school, and kids playing, just like nearly anywhere in the world. And so it is an extra horror to compare it to the UN refugee camp where hope seems gone, especially after a Burundi militia kills over 150 refugees, including Sandra's youngest sister.

When Sandra and her family come to the US, her difficulty in adjusting is understandable, but also highlights the lack of resources her family was given to adjust, especially mental health services for a family whose youngest member had recently been shot to death. How Dare the Sun Rise gives a glimpse into life in central Africa, but perhaps is even better at showing the United States from the perspective of an outsider. And finally, we see Sandra take up the mantle of fighting for justice for her tribe, and how she is able to use the tools she has in the US to further that fight, tools that include this autobiography.

Dec 09, 2019

How would you like for your family to be forced out of your home and moved far away across the globe?

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, tells the true story of the authors life growing in the Congo and beyond. The story begins with her life in her native village. Her family was part of a tribe that had come originally from Rwanda. Their people were treated as second-class citizens in their native country for decades. Even so, Sandra lived a challenging, if peaceful, life with her family until 2004.

Rising tensions between tribal groups forced her and many other members of her tribe to leave their villages to live in refugee camps. She and her family had to survive living among other minorities in the camp, standing in line for hours just to receive a jug of water that wasn’t even full to the brim. Though struggling to get their basic needs met, she and her family were thankful for what they assumed was a safe, or at least safer, a place for them to live, even though it was far from their home.
Then, one night, that safety was gone. The family awoke to a raid on their camp by a local guerrilla group armed with guns and machetes. They held all the refugees in the camp at gunpoint. Sandra feared for her life as she was held at gunpoint, and the filled with horror as she watched her mother and her younger sister gunned down by the guerilla soldiers. That night, the rebel group killed 166 men, women, and children, and seriously wounded 116 others.
After the massacre, the United Nations stepped in, creating a program that allowed members of the refugee camp to come to America, where they hoped they would have a chance at a better life. The family moved to Rochester, N.Y., where they didn’t receive the warm welcome for which they had hoped. In a predominantly white area of the country, Sandraa and her family were defined by their skin color, their accents, and their general “foreignness,” which a racially tense America had little room for. Again, she and her family were treated as second-class citizens in a place that was supposed to be their home.
Rather than backing down and accepting her fate as a refugee and outsider in America, Sandra began to work as a youth activist and advocate, not only for refugees from the Congo, but refugees all over the world. She writes: “This is my story…I must keep telling it until the international community proves…that my family and all others are not disposable.”

Nov 01, 2019

How Dare The Sun Rise, is truly an inspirational story full of raw emotions. Sandra really takes the reader into her life and on a journey, from growing up in Africa to fleeing to America and meeting the Obamas. I would definitely recommend everyone to read this memoir because it really opened my eyes to the reality of immigrants. Sandra tells her side of what it is really like for an immigrant to move from their home land to an entirely different country. Sandra did not only just struggle with fitting into American society, but also fighting depression after everything that had happened back in the Congo. My favorite part about this memoir would be when she was trying to learn how to speak english and how she improved in her education. If you like to read memoirs or any nonfiction novel, then this book is the book for you.

ArapahoeStaff8 Feb 22, 2018

10 yr old Sandra Uwringiyimana watched as her mother and younger sister were attacked in a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her baby sister is killed. Read her profoundly moving memoir of survival. She then survives as a young student in New York and becomes an artist and human rights activist.

Jan 17, 2018

When Sandra was only 10 years old, she watched men shoot her mother in the belly while she was carrying her younger sister, her refugee tent burnt down, and her pastor burned alive. She didn't know how she'd survive. Why didn't the men kill her, too? Tear jerker book, with first person historical events of what happened in Rwanda, and how one teen overcame so much and helped by spreading the word to others internationally to bring awareness to the killings in her hometown.

Jan 12, 2018

An amazing story that's definitely worth reading (even if narrated in rather unwieldy prose).

Kirsten_Library Dec 14, 2017

This book has become my "Must Read" suggestion to anyone who shows interest in stories about refugees, or anyone who likes to build their knowledge base of current world issues.
My favourite (in the sense that it was the most impacting) read of 2017. Not a feel good book, but so valuable to read.

Nov 02, 2017


PimaLib_TeneciaP Sep 05, 2017

The horrors that Sandra, her family, and the members of her tribe faced were almost too much for me to bear. This memoir is deeply moving, heart-wrenching, and at times sorrowful. Sandra's story and resilience are powerful and compelling. They pushed me to really examine what I know about the refugee experience and the conflicts in Africa.

Jul 31, 2017

An incredibly moving memoir! The author, Sandra Uwiringiyimana writes about her survival of the Gatumba massacre, her eventual immigration to America, and her path to activism. I don't usually read memoirs, but I finished this in one day. The author writes about the good and the bad, which I loved because it broke down the stereotypes often associated with "Africa", stereotypes built by Westerners. This is great for readers who love memoirs and even readers who don't usually pick up non-fiction - the writing draws you in. Just like I AM MALALA, How Dare the Sun Rise is powerful and inspiring, a must read.


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PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

"She actually said these words: 'Can I touch you?' She said she had never touched a black person. I humored her, and let her touch me. She closed her eyes and announced, while stroking my arm, 'Wow, if I close my eyes, it's like you're white.'"

PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

"I also wish the resettlement program offered counseling for refugees. They are survivors of trauma. Moving them from here to there isn't enough. We have to care about the people, and help them deal with their past. How can they become a part of a new society when they have never dealt with the terrors of their past?"

PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

"I realized it didn't matter how I saw myself, because other people saw my skin color. Before I came to America, I was Sandra. I was a student, a daughter, a sister. I was African, Congolese. Did I ever define myself as black? No. My skin color didn't determine who I was as a person. Everyone was black....But in America, my skin color did define me, at least in other people's eyes. I was black. I was black first, and then I was Sandra."

PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

"I suppose it's not so surprising that the kids thought people from Africa were from Mars. The images of Africa on American TV were all the same: There were the ads for charity groups showing a white lady holding a starving black child, flies landing all over the kid. Indeed, Africans might be poor, but we know how to swat flies. Then there were the features focusing on some remote and obscure rural tribe. And if Africa ever made the evening news, it was because of a disease outbreak."

PimaLib_ChristineR Jun 26, 2020

"We rarely had translators to help us navigate anything, unless we had an official meeting of some sort. There were no other members of our tribe in Rochester. Everything was new to me. My brain could hardly process anything. My family was really flying blind."


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